State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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After SCOTUS decision, PA working toward legal sports betting

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | May 14, 2018 4:29 PM

 

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Pennsylvania casinos will eventually be able to offer sports betting thanks to a new US Supreme Court decision. (Photo by AP)

(Harrisburg) -- The US Supreme Court has voted to lift a ban on sports gambling, saying the decades-old law is overreach by the federal government.

Now, states will be able to decide the issue for themselves.

Pennsylvania has essentially already made that decision. Lawmakers passed a bill allowing sports betting as part of last year's budget, before they even knew whether the court would legalize it.

Now, it's up to the state Gaming Control Board to figure out what's allowed under the new ruling.

Spokesman Doug Harbach said they're still reviewing it.

"We will work as a staff to promulgate and write regulations, and we have temporary regulative authority, so we'll get those done, we'll put them before the board for approval, and then only at that time would we start the process of accepting applications," he said.

He said there is no concrete timeline for getting sports betting up and running.

The commonwealth's 13 licensed casinos will be able to pay an additional $10 million to apply for a license.

Tax revenue will go to both the state, and to hosting communities.

Peggy Holloway, an analyst for Moody's, said the court's decision is "positive" for the gaming industry nationwide, because illegal betting currently generates about $150 billion annually.

"However," she said, "the impact on the industry as a whole will not be material for some time to come because the roll-out will be implemented on a state by state basis and it is unclear how quickly illegal betting will move to legal venues."

Harbach said he believes an online betting component will be included, but it's still unclear exactly how that will work.

A spokesman for Governor Tom Wolf said Wolf is "hopeful that new revenue from licenses will help future year budgets so the commonwealth can continue investing in things like education, economic development and health care programs."

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